Before you get started on this homemade Easter egg dye project, here’s my little disclaimer: Homemade natural dyes for Easter eggs can be a fun project for older kids, but it’s not appropriate for all young kids. Below are some pros and cons…
Pros of homemade Easter egg dye:
- No synthetic toxic dyes in or on your kids.
- Prettier, more natural egg colors in my opinion. I’m not a neon kind of girl.
- Fun science experiment for older kids or younger kids who don’t need instant egg results to stay happy.
- Uses up leftover produce.
Cons of homemade Easter egg dye:
- More expensive. Produce and natural food colors are more costly than fake dye kits – although I cut costs by using leftovers and berries that have freezer burn.
- Takes forever – as my 11 year old puts it, “A little kid would get bored with this and keep saying, ‘is it done yet’.“
- Iffy results. Sometimes you get amazing natural egg colors and sometimes you get blah gray or weird brown.
- Not as long lasting. Some colors stay put on eggs, others don’t, depending on the produce used and amount of vinegar.
- Uses more energy – you have to boil tons of pots of water.
- There is no great way to make spring green eggs with natural dyes – none that I’ve ever found anyhow.
- It’s harder to make cool designs. For example, say you want a half and half egg, you have to soak half the egg for hours, then soak the other half for many more hours.
If you still want to make homemade Easter egg dye, keep reading for a quick primer.
How to make homemade Easter egg dye
Gather up the following:
- Various colorful veggies, fruits and other items found in nature. You can use fresh or frozen and you don’t need a ton of items. For example, one half of a purple cabbage will produce a HUGE amount of dye. And by huge, I mean about 8 cups plus of dye. As another example, 50 or so blueberries will produce 4 cups of dye. You don’t need a lot. See a list of nature items and the typical colors they produce. Experiment too – any nature item that produces a color may work.
- White vinegar.
- Organic eggs – white. Brown eggs will work but the colors won’t be as bright.
- Pots for boiling.
- Shot glasses, little bowls and spoons for dyeing. If you’re using the cold dip method.
- Parchment, a pan and a pen, if you’re using the cold dip method.
Dye your eggs using the HOT dip method
*Note: This method of egg dyeing is not appropriate for young children, because, you know, boiling water.
Grab a pot and place your natural item in the pot with a decent amount of water. The more water you use the more diluted your color will be. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar for each cup of water used. *Note, you don’t have to always add vinegar – more on this below. Bring your produce to a boil, then reduce your heat, allowing the water to simmer a while.
Once you see that the water is nicely colored, use tongs to place uncooked eggs in a single layer in the pot. Bring the pot back to a boil then turn the heat down to simmer for 15 minutes. Now, at this point, use the tongs to see if your eggs have reached the desired shade. If not, take the eggs out anyhow, pour some liquid into a small bowl, and place the egg in the bowl. Then put the bowl in the fridge. Allow the egg to soak until it reaches the right color.
Note: if you cook your eggs in hot water longer than 15 minutes, they’ll get tough. If you leave them to soak out of the fridge, you’re looking at food contamination. Only soak eggs out of the fridge if you won’t be eating them.
Dye your eggs using the COLD dip method
The first part of the cold dip method is just like the hot method. Grab a pot and place your natural item in the pot with a decent amount of water. The more water you use the more diluted your color will be. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar for each cup of water used. *Note, you don’t have to always add vinegar – more on this below. Bring your produce to a boil, then reduce your heat, allowing the water to simmer a while.
This is where the process changes.
Strain your pots of dye, removing any stems or berries. Get that liquid into various bowls and allow them to cool.
Hard-boil your eggs by placing them in a pot in a single layer. Cover them with cool water (1 inch above the eggs). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and let them simmer for 15 minutes. If you’re going to dye right away put your eggs on the table. If not, put your eggs in the fridge.
To color your eggs with cold dye
Allow your kids to dip eggs with a spoon or tongs into the dye. Place each bowl on a pan lined with parchment. The parchment comes in handy, as you can write on it, noting what bowl contains which color – useful if you’re doing this as a partial science experiment. Place the pan in the fridge overnight, or for about 4-8 hours until the eggs reach the desired color.
Making double dipped Easter eggs
I don’t drink hard alcohol, but I do keep some shot glasses around the house and they come in handy for egg dyeing. Place a wee bit of color into a shot glass and then place your egg into the glass. Only half the egg will get colored. Then later, flip the egg into another shot glass with a second color and you’ll have some double dipped eggs.
Can you use natural food coloring?
You can, but the process will be about as long. Natural food colors are made with the same stuff you’d use – plants, herbs and spices. If you use natural food coloring, simply add about 20 drops to a bowl of water (1-2 cups), add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to each color and dip your eggs in, leaving them to soak overnight in the fridge.
Also note, that the natural food colors I use have issues. I’ve had no luck getting a decent green or blue egg with them. Mostly they’re best for orange, red, pink and yellow eggs. Although, side note, both times I tried making blue eggs with the food coloring, I think it had gone bad.
Vinegar or not?
You don’t have to add vinegar to your egg dyes, but a couple of issues will pop up. For one, vinegar changes the color. As shown above, I made some purple cabbage dye, then added vinegar to half of it. The vinegar cabbage dye produced a dark blue egg while the non-vinegar cabbage dye produced a lovely aqua color. This happens with most natural dyes, so you have to play around to see what happens.
Secondly, if you don’t use vinegar, the dye is more likely to come off. For example, I made blueberry dye without vinegar which produced a beautiful dark purple, but it had zero staying power and rubbed off easily.
- If you use a white crayon on your eggs to draw designs, the dye won’t stain that part of the egg.
- You can use parts of the dye (such as crushed berries) to paint dye on the eggs.
- You can use tea bags or tea mix to create colored dye too.
- Wrap string or rubber bands around eggs to create cool designs.
- To make botanical eggs use the hose method.
Do you make naturally dyed eggs? What have been your best and worst outcomes color-wise.